Heat, humidity and higher carbon dioxide concentrations have created the perfect cocktail for poison ivy growth this summer.
Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist with Rutgers Center of Environmental Prediction at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, describes the plants as “Tarzan-worthy.”
“These plants have been able to continue their growth patterns in an incredibly strong way to the point where the plants themselves are quite robust,” he said. “They’re large and quite healthy in their development of the oil.”
The mild winter and violent summer thunderstorms have added to the ideal conditions for the plant to stoutly thrive.
Seaside Park, N.J., may take a natural approach to tackling an overgrown poison ivy patch along its bay by hiring a herd of goats to eat its way through the problem. The plant growth’s proximity to the bay requires a natural alternative to chemical treatment. A decision has not been made, but using goats to eradicate overgrown vegetation is not uncommon.
A microscopic amount of oil from plant contact is all it takes to cause an allergic reaction on human skin; rashes are usually activated within 24 to 72 hours. Bielroy urges those who spend time outdoors in wooded areas to use simple precautions.
“By wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and laundering them immediately upon returning home, you can avoid having an allergic reaction to the plant oil,” he says.